Saturday, March 29, 2008

Times-Dispatch: "This is as I like it."

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

A rollicking version of 'As You Like It'
Saturday, Mar 29, 2008 - 12:08 AM

It was when Adam Mincks went to put on the tulle skirt that things went over the top.

Shakespeare's "As You Like It" depends on gender switching (the heroine, Rosalind, disguises herself as a man), and Richmond Shakespeare often depends on a tiny cast to portray multiple characters without regard to their sex.

But this five-actor "As You Like It" includes enough gender-bending to spin your head around.

It's the tale of Orlando, who falls in love with Rosalind just before she's banished from her uncle's court. She and her cousin Celia flee in disguise to the forest of Arden, where Rosalind's father is in exile.

There they meet various rustics, the clown Touchstone and the sentimental Jacques, as well as Orlando, who escapes to the forest when he learns that his brother is planning to kill him.

Everyone falls in love in the forest, and all ends well (but that's another play).

In this version, the comedy is amplified by quick changes of role that result in, for instance, bearded Patrick Bromley playing a country maiden and Julia Rigby as a lovelorn shepherd.

In Rebecca Cairns' endlessly versatile and lovely costumes, they add a cap here and a wreath there to mark the characters, with the actors' skills making the transformations magical.

As is the company's frequent practice -- at least for its indoor season -- costume pieces are hung in plain sight, so that when Mincks, hilarious here in numerous roles, goes for that skirt, we know that something even more delicious is coming.

Director Andrew Hamm (who is onstage as accompanist) has infused the production with physicality and music, his trademarks.

There's so much roughhousing that a fight choreographer (actor Frank Creasy) and a fight choreography consultant (David White) were needed to plan the action.

And Hamm has provided pleasant melodies so his cast can sing as appropriate. With nonstop energy and an approach to language that is colloquial and deceptively relaxed, Hamm has created a rollicking version of this classic.

Every actor is superb, especially considering the demands of their many roles. Rigby has less flashy parts such as Celia and Silvius, but she is charming. Bromley is romantic as the lovelorn Orlando and ridiculous as the silly goatherd Audrey.

Sunny LaRose is a marvelous Rosalind, brave and emotional and admirable, even when disguised as Ganymede. Creasy is a marvel as he morphs from aged servant Adam to wrestler Charles to emotional Jacques. Creasy is an actor who is always fully committed.

Mincks has a breakthrough performance here as he achieves perfection in a fistful of roles -- Oliver, the cruel brother who has a change of heart; the foppish courtier LeBeau; the dignified Duke Senior; the clown Touchstone; and the tulle-skirted Phoebe.

Mincks changes accents and attitudes with seeming ease; he even appears to change height. This is as I like it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Richmond Shakespeare's April Workshop

"Auditioning for Musical Theatre"
with Scott Wichmann
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 7:00-9:30 PM
$20 / $10

Richmond Shakespeare is delighted to welcome local star Scott Wichmann to our training faculty for this month's workshop.

It has been said that characters who reach a point of crisis in plays either fight, dance or sing: same impulse, different result. All originate from a breakdown of our ability to communicate in any conventional way. It’s not enough to just sing beautifully at your audition; you need to be able to really inhabit the lyrics from a personal angle. It is less about the flowery sounds we make and more about the underlying motivation to sing in the first place. This is a class about turning “songs” into the “monologues” they already are.

Instructor Scott Wichmann has appeared in approximately 67% of all plays produced in Richmond over the past several years, including acclaimed appearances in I Am My Own Wife, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scapino, Moonlight and Magnolias, Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop, The Taming of the Shrew, and upcoming productions of Guys and Dolls and Richard III. We like Scott.

We are offering a two-tiered enrollment for this workshop: a $20 participant fee, open to a maximum of eight students who will work with Scott and the accompanist directly, and a $10 auditor fee, open to an unlimited number of students who wish to observe the class. Participants should bring sheet music in the correct key to several pieces they are prepared to work on.

The class is open to high school age and up. Participants should, as always, bring a bottle of water and be prepared to move. Email or call him at 804-232-4000 for more information or to make a reservation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New York Auditions This Week

Richmond Shakespeare Auditions in New York

March 27, 2008

By appointment, Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 Eighth Avenue, 10am-1pm

RS will hold auditions for 2008 outdoor summer festival and 2008-2009 indoor season. Minorities encouraged to apply. Seeking 15 men, aged 30-70, and 10 women, aged 25-70. Prefer actors with Richmond (Va.) connection who can provide their own housing. Other needs: theatrical clown skills, experience with Shakespeare. Limited number of Equity Special Appearance contracts are available. One classical monologue of not more than 2 minutes, some cold readings. Summer festival titles: The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shakspr (Abridged), As You Like It, and Henry IV, Part Two. (Some roles already cast), and from the indoor season, Hamlet (Oct '08, no roles yet cast). Those auditioning may be considered for three additional productions on the indoor season not yet announced. To schedule an appointment, send an e-mail to (Phone, emergencies only, 804-232-4000.) Auditioners: Grant Mudge, Artistic Director, James Bond "Henry" director and Kathleen Powers, "Hamlet" director.

Richmond Shakespeare's Spring Acting Class

"Building Characters"
with Andrew Hamm

Mondays, March 31 - May 5, 7:00-9:30 PM
at Second Presbyterian Church (5 N. 5th Street)

“Don’t let anyone tell you to go from the inside out – or the outside in. It’s a circle.”
–Joseph Chaikin

Modern actor training is largely focused on the “inside-out” approach pioneered by Stanislavski, but that’s not the only way to find a character. Sometimes an “outside-in” technique is needed to add distinctive details, and external choices can even be an actor’s primary means of character development.

This class is designed for experienced actors in search of tools for making character choices. We will focus on several techniques of physical and vocal acting designed to build unique and unforgettable performances without requiring that you re-experience personal tragedies to feel like you’ve done good work. Each class session will be a self-contained unit focusing on a specific topic in physical-vocal acting, including Alba Emoting, character voice and body, qualities of movement, and image-building. You may be surprised along the way at how much the external acting choices affect the internal.

Instructor Andrew Hamm has been building characters for longer than he cares to admit at VCU, Off-Off-Broadway, and now as director of Richmond Shakespeare’s Training Department.

Spaces are limited. Call 232-4000 to make your reservation today!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Images from "As You Like It"

Here are a few of Eric Dobbs' beautiful promotional images for As You Like It, opening Friday, March 28th. As usual, the costumes by Rebecca Cairns and Annie Hoskins are just gorgeous! The cast isn't bad-looking either.

Celia (Julia Rigby) coaxes a smile out of Rosalind (Sunny LaRose).

Jaques (Frank Creasy) muses that "All the world's a stage" with the help of Amiens.

Orlando (Patrick Bromley) listens as "Ganymede" slanders the name of Rosalind.

Touchstone (Adam Mincks) freaks out Daffy Duck-style. The lovely Audrey and the simple William look on, fairly oblivious.

"It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue..."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Coming Attractions: "As You Like It"

Overlapping with performances of Measure for Measure, we're now in full-time rehearsal mode for the beloved comedy As You Like It, opening March 28.

Directed by Andrew Hamm, with costumes designed by Rebecca Cairns, the show stars Patrick Bromley, Frank Creasy, Sunny LaRose, Adam Mincks, and Julia Rigby. Frank is a mainstay of our stage, having appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest, the latter which also showcased Patrick's comedic skills. It's been a decade since Sunny has played with Richmond Shakespeare, and Julia and Adam are both making their debuts with us.

This production celebrates Richmond Shakespeare's (then the Encore Theatre Company's) first-ever Shakespearean production over a decade ago, and is being presented in our trademark five-actor format, complete with cross-dressing and chaos. I've been describing it as "a love letter to the five-actor format." Patrick plays both the romantic Orlando and the love-struck Audrey. Frank begins as the usurping Duke Frederick and finishes the play as the melancholy Jaques, who muses, "All the world's a stage..." Sunny is our story's hero, the brilliant Rosalind, who disguises herself as a boy; she also gives a hilarious turn as the bumpkin William. Adam is our big character actor, playing the flamboyant LeBeau, the wicked older brother Oliver, the clown Touchstone, and the, ahem, "irresistible" Phebe. Julia brings spunk and smarts to Celia and unrequited devotion to poor spurned Silvius.

Somehow, four couples must be married by the end of this show. How that's going to work with only five actors? You'll have to come out and see.

It's a play about love and hate, devotion and despair, brothers and cousins, fathers and daughters, country life versus city life. Mostly, though, it's about a girl dressed as a boy pretending to be a girl. Comedy!

We began the rehearsal process by working with ComedySportz's Christine Walters on improv, then Jill Bari Steinberg on multiple-character skills, and these two ladies have really made their mark on this show. I'm now in the process of composing the music for the show, and I'm pretty excited about finally taking advantage of the fact that our theatre has a Bosendorfer baby grand piano in it...

The show previews on March 27th and opens on the 28th. Don't miss it!